Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: Take A Broad View

Recently teacher effectiveness and evaluation have been gaining legislative and media attention.  The current Race to the Top application (U.S. Department of Education, 2009) asks states to “design and implement rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation systems for teachers and principals that (a) differentiate effectiveness using multiple rating categories that take into account data on student growth…as a significant factor, and (b) are designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement.”  Many districts and states are now faced with the challenge of how to thoroughly evaluate whether a teacher is effective in the classroom.   Many states are now modifying existing laws against using student data to evaluate teachers and policy makers are suggesting ways to quantify the evaluation of a teacher by basing the evaluation on student test scores. 

The Tennessee Report, for example, indicates that Tennessee teachers’ evaluation will be based on 50% of student scores, 35% on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVASS) and 15% on other student data, including test scores.  And the New York Times reports that New York schools have also implemented a new teacher evaluation basing effectiveness on 40% of student test scores, which includes scores from tests developed within the school district and state standardized tests. 

Organizations, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported, Measures of Effective Teaching, supplement the focus on student test scores alone by offering a broader analysis and taking five types of data into account:

  • Student achievement gains on state standardized assessments and supplemental assessments designed to measure higher-order conceptual thinking
  • Classroom observations and teacher reflections
  • Teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge
  • Student perceptions of the classroom instructional environment
  • Teachers’ perceptions of working conditions and instructional support at their schools

That’s good to hear.  This project comes at a critical time; and as states look for reliable ways to gauge teacher effectiveness, it’s good to see organizations committed to the hard work of determining the key indicators of what makes for an effective teacher.

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